Of course, over time, man has transformed the cherry tree from a wild cherry tree into a grafted one, and because of this, he is able to harvest not only many, but also large fruits. In principle, the cherry tree is one of the fruit trees that grow very fast and therefore have to be cut back. This happens not only because the crown of the cherry tree is too big and the tree takes up too much space from other trees and too much light from the plants growing underneath. A cherry tree can reach a height of 30 meters! A cherry tree should also be pruned so that light and air can get into the middle of the branches and fruit can also be formed here.

Rich harvest = good care

Depending on whether you want to prune a sweet cherry tree or a sour cherry tree, there are a few things to keep in mind.

Tip: Sweet cherries are divided into crunchy gristle cherries and fleshy heart cherries.

If cherry trees are not thinned out and pruned back, they will develop smaller and smaller fruits over the years. The middle of the crown can be bare, of course there are no cherries here. To prevent this, the tree should be pruned regularly.

The right time – when to cut?

Cherry trees – regardless of whether they are sweet or sour cherries – should ideally be pruned back in summer after they have been harvested. Never cut the bare cherry tree! Even though cherries are among the stone fruit varieties and all pome, stone and soft fruit varieties should be pruned from January to March, the cherry tree is not one of them. A dry day should be chosen for the time of pruning, as the resulting wounds on the tree can then heal better.

Which tool?
Basically, you need suitable tools for gardening, which also includes the pruning of trees. Maybe some new garden owners have to buy some basic equipment first, for pruning fruit trees you definitely need:

  • A secateurs for branches up to approx. 1.5 cm in diameter
  • A pruning shears for thick branches, a telescopic extension can be helpful
  • A hacksaw with an adjustable saw blade for branches

Basically, the tool for the garden should be made of stable and high-quality material. Better to buy good quality bit by bit than cheap tools all at once.

Tip:  A Japanese folding saw can also cut thicker branches.

The cutback

Once everything is prepared and the right day selected, you can start. The purpose of pruning is to cut the inner crown of the cherry tree so that the sun and air can get in. It follows that all branches growing towards the trunk must be removed. You should also remove one of two branches that cross each other.

Important: Few cuts mean fewer wounds – it is better to cut off a larger branch than many small ones.

  • Immediately after planting the cherry tree, the first pruning is carried out, which is about the structure of the cherry tree. A central shoot as a trunk extension and three or four main branches are selected. These are cut back to four or six eyes. These can be recognized as small dents where twigs, leaves or flowers will later sprout. All other shoots are removed.
  • After a year, remove all young shoots that have grown too dense. Strong side shoots are shortened by a third, weak side shoots by half their size. Shoots that are not needed to build up the crown are left as fruiting wood. In the case of Süsskirchen in particular, strong long shoots are formed on which there are only leaf buds. Flower buds also form in the lower area. The fruit wood is formed on the short shoots, which then form the so-called bouquet shoot. You should only remove them if they grow too steeply upwards.

You can rejuvenate an old cherry tree by completely removing bare or drooping branches as well as branches that have grown too densely. Young shoots are cut above an intact eye so that new shoots can be sprout here.

The procedure for the sour cherries is a little different. Here you can regularly cut off the young shoots above one eye, especially in the case of the morello cherry, so that part of the new shoots are removed and the weaker ones remain uncut for fruiting.

Tip: All cuts that are larger than a 2 euro coin should be treated with wound sealant.

The dream of sweet cherries

There is no single cherry tree with sweet cherries, there are many different varieties of sweet cherries and sour cherries. Only their taste and the wonderful appearance are common to all varieties. Crunchy cherries, also known as Knortiel cherries, are for example the Schneiders Späte Knorpel variety, which only attracts with dark red-brown fruits in July. Büttner’s red gristle has light yellow flesh. Heart cherries, such as the Regina or Kordia variety, have soft flesh. This also includes the Hedelfinger giant cherry. In principle, cherries cannot tolerate rain. When ready to harvest, do not leave them on the tree any longer than necessary or they may burst open.

Tip: Always pick cherries from the tree with the stalk.

Sour cherries – no penalty at all

While tart cherries aren’t great for snacking on straight from the tree, who would despise a delicious cake made with fresh tart cherries? Jam is made from sour cherries, they can be preserved in mason jars and sweeten many a dull winter day. Frozen sour cherries turn cakes and desserts into small feasts.

Knowledge: The best-known sour cherry is the morello cherry

Sometimes sour cherries are also referred to as industrial cherries. They are taken by food companies, which then offer them preserved in jars, processed into compotes or prepared for further processing into cakes. Sour cherries are almost more sensitive than sweet cherries because they lose their juice quickly. Their flesh is very soft and when the stalk is pulled out, the pit is often attached. Then the cherry “bleeds” very quickly, which is why it should only be harvested with the utmost care. Well-known varieties are the Koröser sour cherry or Gerema. The morello cherry got its name because it was already growing in 1598 in the garden of a French castle called Chateau de Moreille.

You should take good care of a cherry tree right from the start, ie cut it back. If you plant a young cherry tree, you should prune it young and check regularly every year whether and which shoots need to be shortened or cut off. Mature cherry trees sometimes require rigorous pruning, but this is important for fruiting. Even if such a pruning initially means that there will be fewer cherries on the tree next summer or the summer after that, after that many and, above all, thicker fruits will grow on the branches. A cherry tree does take some work, but the effort is worth it and is forgotten when you can nibble on the freshly picked plump fruit.

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